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THE BATTLE OF ROOSEBEK
 CHARLES THE WISE was anxious that his little son should
be well trained for his
Before his death he had sent for two of his brothers,
the Duke of Bern and the Duke
.of Burgundy, as well as for his queen's brother, the
Duke of Bourbon.
To them he entrusted the little prince, saying, "Behave
to him as good uncles, and
counsel him loyally in all his affairs. All my trust is
in you; the child is young
and fickle-minded, and great need there is he should be
governed by good teaching."
For the Duke of Anjou, his other brother, the king had
not sent, because he knew him
to be selfish, greedy, ambitious, and unfit to take
charge of his little nephew.
If the little prince was fond of excitement and games,
it was only natural, and he
had simple, boy like tastes. Shortly before his death
Charles v. told his son that
he might choose any one of his most beautiful jewels.
The boy glanced at the
sparkling stones, then passed them by and chose instead
a little helmet. Beside the
helmet he hung at the top of his bed a tiny suit of
armour, too small to wear, but
which seemed to give great pleasure to the little
While the boy-king was young, his four uncles ruled his
kingdom. They were called
the "Princes of the Lilies," because on their shields
they bore the royal arms of
France, gold lilies or fleur-de-lys on a background of
There are different legends told about the
 Far back, in the time of the Merovingian kings,
the royal banner was blue with
gold lilies. At first it is supposed the emblem was
meant to represent the head of a
javelin, or it may have arisen from the custom among
the Franks of placing a "reed
or flag in blossom," instead of a sceptre, in the hands
of each newly crowned king.
In the Middle Ages the fleur-de-lys was the emblem of
the Virgin Mary. It was also
often to be seen in church banners and altar
decorations. In 1789, as you shall
hear, the beautiful banners of the fleur-de-lys were
replaced by flags of blue, white
and red, called the Tricolour.
The Duke of Anjou was one of the "Lily Princes." He was
very angry that Charles V.had not summoned him to the royal bedchamber along with
his brothers. But though the
dying king did not know it, the duke had hidden himself
in the next room, and the
moment his brother had breathed his last he seized the
crown jewels, and all the
gold and silver he could find. He then asked the
treasurer to tell him where the
king had concealed the rest of his wealth.
The treasurer made an effort to be true to his dead
master, and said that he had
promised not to tell. Without a moment's hesitation the
Duke of Anjou ordered the
faithful servant to be beheaded.
But the man's faithfulness could not stand so severe a
test, and he hastily told the
duke where he would find the king's secret treasure.
It was this greedy duke who was now made regent. But he
had no wish to stay at home
and govern France, for his heart was set on becoming
King of Naples. So he raised an
army to march into Italy to fight for the crown he
longed to wear.
But he could not leave France as soon as he wished, for
although he had seized the
treasures of Charles v., the duke had not enough money
to pay his soldiers, so he
laid heavy taxes on the citizens of Paris.
 The townsfolk refused to be taxed to pay for the
duke's foreign wars. Arming
themselves with clubs or any weapon they could seize,
they killed those who came to
collect the taxes. Then working themselves up into a
frenzy, the mob broke open the
prisons, and set free the prisoners to join in the
Even the greedy duke saw that he must abolish his taxes
if he wished to quell the
revolt before more harm was done. So he promised to
reduce the taxes, and the
citizens, trusting to his word, laid down their
No sooner had they done so than the duke ordered the
leaders of the riot to be arrested. Then, in the dead
night, he made his soldiers tie them up in sacks and
them into the river Seine. The cruel duke then went
with his army to Italy.
But misfortune dogged his steps. Before he had been
long in Italy food began to run
short, and it was impossible to buy provisions, for the
King of Naples took care
that none should be sent to the prince who had come to
take his crown.
The duke offered all he possessed for food, but in
vain. His anger and want of
proper nourishment left him an easy prey to fever,
which now attacked him, and from
which he never recovered.
Philip, Duke of Burgundy, then became regent. This was
the Philip who fought so
bravely by his father's side at the battle of Poitiers.
Almost at once he was forced to march into Flanders to
put down a rebellion of the
burghers against the Count of Flanders.
The burghers were led by Philip van Artevelde, a son of
the great brewer who had
helped Edward III. at the battle of Sluys.
When the burghers heard that the Duke of Burgundy, with
the young king and an army,
was coming to punish
 them for their rebellion,
they were dismayed, for the
English had refused to come to their help.
Philip van Artevelde, however, assembled his captains,
and bade them have no fear,
for they were defending the liberties of their country.
"Tell your men," he said, "to show no quarter. We must
spare the King of France
only; he is a child, and must be pardoned. We will take
him away to Ghent and have
him taught Flemish."
Meanwhile, the Duke of Burgundy, who had reached
Flanders, had given the young king
into the charge of Oliver Clisson, who had been made
constable after the death of
Clisson knew it was an honour to have charge of the
little king, but he also knew
that his soldiers would need him in the midst of the
battlefield. He therefore
begged Charles to excuse him.
The boy-king answered, "Constable, I would fain have you
in my company to-day. You
know well that my father loved and trusted you more
than any other. In the name of
God and St. Denis, do whatever you think best." So
Clisson went back to his
At Roosebek, not far from Courtrai, where you remember
the Flemings had won a great
victory, another battle was now fought in 1382.
Philip van Artevelde, seeing the numbers of the French,
began to lose a little of
the great confidence he had had, while the French
insolently said, "These fellows
are ours; our very varlets might beat them."
The Flemings, however, fought bravely, tying themselves
together so as to advance in
a solid body upon the enemy.
But Clisson was a good general, and soon he had
surrounded the burghers, and was
attacking them on every side. It was impossible for the
burghers to escape, and even
had they been able they would probably have been too
proud to flee from the field.
Thus almost the whole
 army of Ghent perished,
while the leader of the
rebellion, Philip van Artevelde, was also slain.
As the Flemings now again submitted to their count, the
French were soon able to
march home. Charles was proud of his first victory. He
himself took the Oriflamme,
which had been at the head of the army, back to St.
Denis, and the following day he
marched with his army into Paris.
The loyal citizens came out, as was their custom, to
welcome their king, to rejoice
in his victory. But Charles and the Duke of Burgundy
refused their homage, and
curtly bade them begone. For the citizens had rebelled
against the heavy taxes
imposed on them by the regent, and the king, urged by
his uncles, now resolved to
Perhaps the victory at Roosebek had made the king eager
to use his power. In any
case, more than three hundred of the principal citizens
were, in 1382, put to death
by his order.
Among these was one named Jean des Marests, a clever
lawyer, who had often during
the last two years made peace between the regent and
the people. But he had also
advised the citizens to carry arms and put up
barricades for the defence of the city
when the regent had increased the taxes.
Jean was condemned to death, in spite of all his good
offices. On the way to the
place of execution he was put on a car "higher than the
rest, that he might be
better seen by everybody." He was seventy years old,
yet when he heard his cruel
sentence he remained undisturbed, saying only, "Let
them come and set forth the
reasons for my death."
When Jean reached the place of execution, the people
cried, "Ask the king's mercy.
Master Jean, that he may pardon your offences."
"Des Marests, when he heard the people's words,
answered, I served well and loyally
his great-grandfather, King Philip, his grandfather,
King John, and his father, Charles. None
 of these kings had anything to reproach me with, and this one
would not reproach me any the more if he were of a
grown man's age and experience. I
don't suppose that he is a whit to blame for such a
sentence, and I have no cause to
cry him mercy. To God alone must I cry for mercy, and I
pray Him to forgive my
When the citizens had been duly punished, the taxes,
especially the hated salt tax
called the Gabelle, were again imposed.